People Gather To Protest Hatem Bridge Toll Increase

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Alex DeMetrick has been a general assignment reporter with WJZ...
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CECIL COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — With a hike in bridge tolls looming, people who depend on the Hatem Bridge are vowing a fight to stop tolls from going up in their community.

Alex DeMetrick was in Cecil County for the first “no new tolls” protest.

Not everyone pays the same amount to cross the Susquehana on the Hatem Bridge.  For the occasional user on this stretch of Route 40, it’s $5.  For locals, $10 buys a decal good for a year.  That may be about to change with a proposed toll increase.

“When it only costs you $10 for a year and it’s going up to $90, I don’t think that’s a good idea,” said resident Lillian Simmons.

Neither do others gathered along Route 40 in Perryville.

“Seeing about stopping such an increase on this toll here,” said James Hansen.

It’s an increase that will eventually do away with decals and replace them with EZ-Pass transmitters for an additional cost.  You can beat the toll between Perryville and Havre de Grace, but it’s a bit of a haul.

“You can cross the Conowingo Dam,” said Anna Cifaldo.  “You don’t want all the extra mileage.”

Toll hikes have been proposed for most of Maryland’s bridges, but there are those who depend on them to link families and businesses, not just commuting.

“We live in the rural parts of the state and are not going to be discriminated against [with all these toll hikes],” said Senator E.J. Pipkin.

“If they don’t back down on this, we’re going to be filing suit against the state of Maryland for what they’re doing,” said Senator Nancy Jacobs.

Anger at the proposed toll increases is likely to be a common feature at a series of public hearings being held this summer around the state.

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